KINGSTON, ONTARIO – Gabby Daleman has mixed emotions when she finished her long program at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships on Saturday.
She had made some mistakes, had a fall, was chugging on after her sixth bout of strep throat this season, and she didn’t know if she had done enough.
She did, by 1.78 points. Daleman, 16, of Newmarket, Ont., won her first Canadian title with 186.02 points over a high-flying, very tough Alaine Chartrand, who actually defeated her in the free skate.
Chartrand, 18, or nearby Prescott, Ont., looked entirely shocked when her marks came up on a monitor. She had won the free skate with 123.99 points, only .88 points more than Daleman. But she had been third in the short program, and she finished with the silver medal and 184.24 points.
Véronik Mallet, 20, of Sept-Îles, Que., took the bronze medal by finishing third in the free skate with 111. 24 points and ending up with 172.43 points.
Kim Deguise Léveillée, 16, of Sorel-Tracy, Que., burst into tears when she discovered she had finished fourth in the free skate and fifth overall, meeting her goal of finishing in the top five. She was the Canadian junior champion last year.
“When I finished, I was relieved because I skated my heart out,” Daleman said, the tears coming out on the ice. “I was also so proud of myself,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘You want to be Canadian champion, you deserve it, you’ve been working hard, you want it bad, don’t give up. If you give up, you’re going to lose. I gave it my everything and held on.”
Chartrand earned the first standing ovation of her career to her Doctor Zhivago routine. “That was really exciting,” she said. “And it wasn’t just my family because they did that last year.” She improved her personal best by 12 points.
The men’s event was just as tough a fight, although Nam Nguyen, only 16, left the field in the dust with the 175.10 points he received for the free skate and 256.88 overall.
“That is just gigantic,” said Liam Firus, who ended third with 222.40 points, only .18 behind a rejuvenated Jeremy Ten. “That’s comparable to top five in the world.”
What’s it like to be called Canadian champion after a seven-year rule by Patrick Chan (who congratulated Nguyen afterward), “It feels pretty cool,” Nguyen said. “I’ve been dreaming of becoming Canadian champion since I was eight years old (and won the juvenile title.)”
Coach Brian Orser was not surprised. Nguyen’s potential is limitless, he said. “He keeps pushing it,” Orser said. “He surprises me, but the thing he’ll want to do now is put a quad in the short. We’ll discuss that. But he’s been landing some quad toe loops. He keeps pushing the boundaries. And he’s consistent.”
Orser hopes for a finish in the top eight at the world championships.
Ten, who returned only for a farewell year at the Canadian championships, may also be on the world team. “I’m just beyond myself right now,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Coach Joanne McLeod was emotional in the kiss and cry. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she said.
Firus was hoping for second, but he’s okay with third. One of the most beautiful of skaters in the field, he outpointed everybody, including Nguyen in program components, earning 82.52.